This article on Epainassist.com has been reviewed by a medical professional, as well as checked for facts, to assure the readers the best possible accuracy.

We follow a strict editorial policy and we have a zero-tolerance policy regarding any level of plagiarism. Our articles are resourced from reputable online pages. This article may contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.

The feedback link “Was this Article Helpful” on this page can be used to report content that is not accurate, up-to-date or questionable in any manner.

This article does not provide medical advice.


Managing Psoriasis in Cold Weather : Comprehensive Guide & Tips

  1. Introduction to Psoriasis and Cold Weather

    1. Psoriasis – A Chronic Skin Condition

      Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that is characterized by a rapid build-up of the skin leading to thick, silvery, itchy, dry, and sometimes painful skin surface. It is an autoimmune condition, which means the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells of the body. This causes the skin life cycle to speed up, resulting in the accumulation of cells on the surface. These cells form patches associated with psoriasis.

      The exact cause of psoriasis is not fully understood, but it is believed to occur from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

      Psoriasis can vary in severity. Some individuals may experience only mild symptoms while others may have severe and widespread manifestations.

    2. Impact of Cold Weather on Psoriasis Symptoms

      Cold weather can have a significant impact on psoriasis symptoms. It often leads to exacerbation of symptoms. There are several factors associated with cold weather that may affect psoriasis.

      Psoriasis flares up in cold weather due to lower sunlight exposure and low humidity levels.(1) A study showed that among 2,270 people with psoriasis, 53.2% experienced worsening symptoms in fall and winter.(2)

      However, several steps can be taken to manage the psoriasis symptoms and reduce the symptom severity during cold weather.

  2. Understanding Psoriasis and Its Triggers

    1. Causes, Types, and Common Symptoms of Psoriasis

      Psoriasis is a skin condition affecting the skin cell life cycle leading to a build-up of skin cells on the surface. This leads to the formation of characteristic patches of thickened, red skin covered with silvery scales.

      There are different types of psoriasis, including:(3)

      • Plaque Psoriasis: It is the most common type characterized by raised, red patches with layers of silvery scales.
      • Guttate Psoriasis: It presents as small, red spots on the skin, often triggered by bacterial infection, especially streptococcal throat infections.
      • Pustular Psoriasis: It involves pustules surrounded by red skin that can be localized or widespread. It is often accompanied by fever.
      • Erythrodermic Psoriasis: It is a rare form that covers a large portion of the body with a red, peeling rash and can be life-threatening. It may require immediate medical intervention.
      • Psoriatic Arthritis: In addition to skin symptoms, some individuals develop joint inflammation and pain known as psoriatic arthritis.

      The causes of psoriasis include the following:(4)

      • Genetics: Having a family history of psoriasis is a significant risk factor.
      • Immune System: Psoriasis develops when the immune system mistakenly targets healthy skin cells, causing rapid proliferation and inflammation.
      • Environmental Triggers: Factors including infection, stress, injury to the skin and certain medications trigger or exacerbate psoriasis.

      Common symptoms of psoriasis include:

      • Raised and inflamed areas of the skin, covered with silvery-white scales.
      • There may be itching, leading to discomfort and potential skin damage.
      • Accumulation of dead skin cells, creating thick scales that can shed resulting in flaking.
      • Dryness of skin.
      • Scratching and peeling off scales, causing patches to bleed.
      • Pain and stiffness in joints and decreased joint function.
      • Nail separation from the nail bed.

      Psoriasis cannot be cured but various treatments, lifestyle adjustments, and medical interventions can help in controlling symptoms

    2. Factors that Trigger Psoriasis Flare-Up

      Identification of triggers can play a significant role in preventing and minimizing flare-ups. Common triggers of psoriasis include:

      • Stress: It triggers the immune system and the immune system response contributes to psoriasis flare-ups.
      • Infection: Common infections including streptococcal throat infection can aggravate psoriasis.(11)
      • Weather conditions: Cold and dry weather conditions lead to skin dryness and exacerbate psoriasis symptoms.
      • Skin trauma: Injuries, cuts, burns, and even tattoos can trigger the Koebner phenomenon, where psoriasis develops at the site of injury.
      • Medications: Beta-blockers, lithium, and certain anti-malarial drugs may trigger or worsen psoriasis.(12)
      • Alcohol: Consuming alcohol in excess can negatively impact psoriasis.
      • Smoking: Smoking is linked with a higher risk of developing psoriasis.(13)
      • Hormonal changes: Changes in hormones during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause can influence psoriasis.
      • Altered immune response: Anything affecting immune response influences psoriasis. This may include any time of illness, chronic disease, and certain treatments that suppress or modulate the immune response.
      • Sunburn and overexposure: Excessive sun exposure may trigger flare-ups or worsen symptoms.
      • Psychological factors: Anxiety, depression, and other mental issues trigger psoriasis.

      Triggers may vary from person to person. Those struggling with managing psoriasis should work closely with a healthcare provider to develop a personalized treatment plan and know how to minimize triggers.

  3. How Cold Weather Affects Psoriasis

    Cold weather significantly impacts psoriasis due to several factors that worsen the condition.

    • Dry Air and Reduced Humidity: Cold air holds less humidity. This dry air strips off the skin of its natural moisture causing an increase in dryness, flaking, and irritation. Already, psoriasis-prone skin is susceptible to dryness, and lack of humidity during colder months exacerbates the issue.
    • Skin Dehydration: Cold temperature decreases the flow of blood to the skin surface, decreasing oil production and reducing hydration. This makes skin more susceptible to cracking, itching, and irritation.
    • Reduced Sunlight Exposure: Sunlight contains UV rays that slow down the rapid growth of skin cells and reduce inflammation. During colder months less time is spent outdoors, decreasing the exposure to sunlight and worsening psoriasis.
    • Hot Water Bath and Showers: Hot water strips the skin of its natural oils leading to dryness and irritation. Excessive heat worsens inflammation and itching.
    • Thicker Clothing and Friction: People wear thicker clothing during cold weather. This leads to increased friction against the skin increasing discomfort.
    • Indoor Heating: Heating indoor environments during cold weather further reduces humidity levels contributing to dry skin.
    • Immune Response: Cold weather potentially weakens the immune system in already dysregulated individuals.(5) This triggers inflammation and worsens psoriasis.
    • Moisture Loss: Cold air causes moisture to evaporate quickly from the skin’s surface. This exacerbates dryness and leads to more pronounced scaling and flaking.
  4. Tips for Managing Psoriasis in Cold Weather

    Special attention is required for managing psoriasis in cold weather. Some tips for effectively managing symptoms of psoriasis in colder months are:

    • Hydration and Moisturization: Moisturizer should be applied to the skin while it is still damp, after every hand wash, bathing, and shower.(6) The moisturizers should contain ceramides, glycerin, or hyaluronic acids to repair the skin’s natural barrier. Whenever there is an urge to itch, moisturizer should be applied gently.
    • Warm Shower and Bath: Lukewarm water should be used rather than hot water to prevent skin drying.(8) Scrubbing of the skin should be avoided as it can worsen psoriasis.
    • Clothing Choices: Soft breathable fabrics should be chosen to reduce irritation. Tight-fitting clothing should be avoided as they can cause friction against psoriasis patches.
    • Sunlight Exposure: A person should spend time outdoors whenever possible to get natural sunlight. The affected area should be exposed to sunlight for short periods. UVB in sunlight may be helpful in slowing down skin cell growth to treat psoriasis.(7)
    • Medical Treatments: Topical treatments should be used as prescribed by the dermatologist. Medicated creams and ointments should be applied on psoriasis patches, emollients should be used to reduce scaling and itching. Mild, fragrance-free skincare products should be used to prevent irritation.
    • Humidification of Indoor Air: Humidifiers should be used to prevent irritation of the skin. Humidity levels between 30-50% should be maintained for optimal comfort.
    • Diet and Hydration: Staying hydrated keeps the skin healthy. Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids should be consumed.
    • Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity should be done to boost circulation and reduce stress.
    • Seasonal Vaccination: An infection or illness may trigger psoriasis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone to get the available vaccination and reduce the risk of illness.(8)
    • Healthy lifestyle: Various lifestyle factors including smoking, alcohol, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes are the risk factors for psoriasis.(9) Lifestyle changes can help people manage psoriasis.
    • Dermatologist Consultation: The condition of the skin should be discussed with a dermatologist regularly.
    • Manage Stress: Stress triggers psoriasis and may worsen it. Stress management techniques including practicing meditation and mindfulness can be helpful.

    The same type of treatment may not work for everyone. The treatment needs to be tailored according to the individual needs and condition.

  5. When to Speak with a Doctor

    Individuals with psoriasis should consult a healthcare professional regularly. Seeking medical advice can be helpful in effectively managing the condition and preventing potential complications.

    According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, anyone experiencing psoriasis flares during cold weather should contact a healthcare professional.(10) A doctor may suggest new medication, treatments, or some changes in lifestyle to manage symptoms.


Effective management of psoriasis during cold weather requires a combination of careful skincare, lifestyle adjustment, and regular follow-up with healthcare professionals.

Psoriasis cannot be completely cured, but the symptoms can be managed with a combination of medical treatments, lifestyle modifications, and self-care practices. The medication regimen should not be changed during the winter months to ensure good control over the condition. Proactive approach and guidance from a medical professional, a person can continue to enjoy a good quality of life even while facing challenges in cold weather.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 27, 2023

Recent Posts

Related Posts